Frances Tornquist Richmann
Frances Tornquist Richmann, educator, university administrator, entrepreneur, and police department volunteer, died unexpectedly at her ranch just west of Bisbee, Arizona on June 14, 2019. A native of Iowa, Frances was born on June 19, 1942, to a family descendant from Swedish immigrant farmers. She is survived by her husband of 51 years, Lieutenant Colonel US Army Retired James Richmann, also a native of Iowa now residing in Bisbee, and her two children (Isaac and Helsa) and five grandchildren (Diego, Sophia, Isaiah, Christian, and Mia).
Frances was a graduate of Grand View University, Drake University and completed coursework for a graduate degree in Project Management at Marymount University. While studying for a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Drama at Drake, Frances had acting roles in New York Off Broadway productions of Thornton Wilder’s Skin of our Teeth and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.
Foregoing her acting career, Frances became an Iowa public school teacher in English and Speech in 1964, teaching in Keokuk County, Iowa where she met Jim and his family. Altogether, Frances taught for fourteen years at the secondary and college level. When Frances and Jim were married, she was a speech instructor at Grand View, her alma matter.
When Jim was drafted in 1968 and entered active duty in 1970, Frances began what would become a twenty three year career caring for soldiers and their families. As the spouse of a Commander overseas during the Cold War, she was responsible for the safe evacuation of 191 soldier families from the theatre of war in the event of open hostilities. She also found time to run the US Army Education Center in Hindenburg Kaserne, Ansbach, Federal Republic of Germany.
Upon returning from overseas, Frances became a university administrator at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. It was at this time she began a life-long obsession as a Police Department Volunteer, first at the Arlington County PD and later at the Bisbee PD. Learning of her training and experience, the Arlington Chief of Police appointed her to run the training department for a force of 400 sworn officers and a serviced population of 207,000 citizens. During the attacks on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Frances and the other non-sworn staff manned the phones and processed real time threat intelligence for police mission command. In 2003, Frances was honored as Arlington County Volunteer of the year for her more than 5000 hours of police service.
Later in 2003, Frances and Jim moved to Delaware where she took on the challenge of President and Chairman of the Board for the Lewes Historical Society in the home of the first town in the first state. During her six year tenure, she organized an accreditation review by the American Alliance of Museums which later led to a $20M capital funding campaign. In 2009 Frances was honored as President Emeritus, only one of two officers of the Museum so designated in its fifty year history.
In March 2016, Frances and Jim moved to their home on Spring Canyon in Bisbee, which they had purchased in 2008. Frances, Jim, and Jim’s siblings wanted to build an Arizona Craft Whiskey Distillery, but Frances did most of the work and all of the project management.
Frances lived an active life and was close by her mules at her death. She had no regrets and was known in Bisbee for being kind to her friends and rough on those who stood in the way of good government and progress.
A memorial service is planned for Frances at St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Bisbee on Saturday, 6 July 2019 at 9:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials made to benefit the Bisbee Police Department, c/o Chief Albert Echave, 1 AZ-92, Bisbee, AZ 85603, phone (520) 432-2261